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Feb. 11: Carnegie Mellon Professor Earns Lifetime Achievement Award


Anne Watzman

Byron Spice

Carnegie Mellon Professor Earns Lifetime Achievement Award
For Her Work in Human-Computer Interaction

Sara KieslerPITTSBURGH—Sara Kiesler, Carnegie Mellon University's Hillman Professor of Computer Science and Human-Computer Interaction, is this year's recipient of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group in Computer-Human Interaction's (SIGCHI) most prestigious honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. Members of the SIGCHI honorary group have made extensive contributions to the study of human-computer interaction (HCI) and have led in shaping its direction.

Kiesler, who will be honored and presented with a $5,000 honorarium at the SIGCHI meeting April 4-9 in Boston, is a well-known social psychologist, who has studied group dynamics, decision-making and communication. Her research in HCI has focused on many of the most significant social impacts of computing, such as "flaming," social equalization, open communication, electronic groups, information sharing and distributed collaboration. She also has brought concepts from social psychology and HCI to robotics, helping to create the new interdisciplinary field of human-robot interaction.

Kiesler's books written in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon colleagues and students are about the social implications and practices associated with the rise of the Internet, and include "Connections," "Culture of the Internet" and "Distributed Work." Her study of the Internet and its impact on the sociability of the home environment, done in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon colleague Robert Kraut, the Herbert A. Simon Professor of HCI, received extensive national attention.

Most recently, Kiesler has collaborated with former Carnegie Mellon graduate student Jonathon Cummings, now at Duke University, to study outcomes from more than 500 research projects that were part of two multidisciplinary, multi-university research programs funded by the National Science Foundation. They found that interdisciplinary teams did well, but projects involving more than one university did not. The more universities running a project, the fewer positive outcomes that occurred in terms of publications, patents, awards and Ph.D. students. They did statistical analyses of how the projects were selected and managed, and one of the most significant findings was that the projects disbursed over more than one university were more difficult to coordinate, and the researchers were less diligent in trying to coordinate their efforts.

Kiesler holds a bachelor's degree in social science from Simmons College, master's degrees in psychology and communication form Stanford University, and her doctorate in psychology from The Ohio State University. She joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty in 1979 as a professor in the Department of Social and Decision Sciences. She was named Hillman Professor in the School of Computer Science in 2004. She has served on numerous national committees and panels concerned with technology, science, policy and society.

Pictured above is Sara Kiesler.